The Terps (5-2 B1G) suffered a 25-12 defeat at the hands of the Wildcats (8-0 B1G) in the first game of a two-game series.
Maryland was simply not able to execute its defensive game plan against a Northwestern squad that leads the country in goals per game. The 25 goals scored by the Wildcats is their highest tally of the season.
“It was a tough day, I think we’ve got to reevaluate some things on our end and come back out ready to go on Monday,” head coach Cathy Reese said after the game. “With this quick turnaround we have the opportunity to play them again which is something we’re looking forward to.”
Sammy Mueller of the Wildcats and Brindi Griffin of the Terps traded goals to open the game, but then Northwestern scored four unanswered goals, two apiece by their leading scorers Izzy Scane and Lauren Gilbert, to make it 5-1 early on in the first half.
Maryland was able to cut the deficit to one after three straight goals, one by Hannah Warther and two by Catie May, and kept the game close for the majority of the half. At 12:42, with Maryland only trailing 7-5, Leah Holmes scored the first of four straight Northwestern goals, pushing the score to 11-5.
The Wildcats scored six of the final eight goals in the half, giving them a 13-7 lead going into the locker room.
“When things started to go south, we started to deviate from what we wanted to do,” Reese said. “We’re learning and this is part of the process, to be challenged by a team as strong as Northwestern.”
The second half got off to a slow start offensively, but after a Warther goal, Northwestern again scored three unanswered goals. Catie May, Brindi Griffin, and Hannah Leubecker all added goals for the Terps, but Maryland was never able to build any sort of momentum to make it a close game.
Already up 20-11, Northwestern scored five straight goals over a six-minute span late in the second half, making the score 25-11. One final Maryland tally by Shaylan Ahearn gave the Terps 12 scores on the day, but it was much too little and much too late.
Izzy Scane, the leading scorer in the country, led the Wildcats with nine goals and three assists on the afternoon while Lauren Gilbert, the third-leading scorer in the country, added six goals of her own.
Catie May and Hannah Warther both had three goals for Maryland. Hannah Leubecker, the Terps’ leading scorer, was held to just two goals, her lowest total since the opener at Penn State.
Maryland also really struggled on the draw, which is something that has been a strength of theirs so far this season. Northwestern had 24 draw controls compared to just 14 by the Terps.
“We did execute on offense when we had the chance,” Brindi Griffin said. “It’s tough with how Northwestern dominated the draw, so we didn’t have a ton of opportunities.”
This game served as a bit of a reality check for the Terps who had won five straight games, but against some of the weaker competition in the conference. The experience is important for Maryland’s young players, but they will need to put together an almost perfect effort on Monday to come away with a win.
Monday’s game will air at 1:00 on the Big Ten Network.